Category Archives: Blogospherical Highlights

Bountiful Baskets – Fresh Fruit & Veggies for LESS

This weekend, I had the pleasure of participating in Bountiful Baskets! I love this concept – it’s a food co-op where people get together and buy produce and other grocery items directly from produce vendors, so you save a TON of money.

“The Co-op offers a conventional produce basket very other week which is generally ½ fruit and ½ veggies. The monetary contribution is $15.00 and is generally worth $50.00 retail. Organic baskets require a contribution of $25. To participate visit http://www.BountifulBaskets.org and check the schedule to see when your state is available to make your monitary contribution using a debit or credit card. Then, pick up your basket on Saturday morning at the time and place you chose when you contributed!” – BountifulBaskets.org

Volunteering is an important part of the process, since it helps keep costs to a minimum. They ask that you show up an hour early to help sort produce baskets at least every 4-6 weeks if you’re able. It actually looked like the folks at my pickup site were enjoying themselves, so I’m looking forward to pitching in!

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Image Courtesy: Bountiful Baskets Facebook Page

The simplicity of the whole operation is genius. On Monday last week, I went online and made my “contribution” and then on Saturday went to the pick-up site to get my produce!

Footprints in the Butter

Image Courtesy: Footprints in the Butter Blog

For $15 (+$1.50 processing fee, +$3.00 one-time basket purchase), I got all of the following:

– 1 head Bok Choy

– 2 heads Green Leaf Lettuce

– 6 Radishes

– 1 Garlic Bulb

– 1 bunch Asparagus (about 25 stalks)

– 1 bunch Celery

– 2 Green Bell Peppers

– 4 Lemons

– 4 Mangos

– 7 Bananas

– 1 package Strawberries

That’s A LOT of food for $16.50!! I am very happy with the price and assortment of produce, but I think the best part is the freshness of everything. I hate going to the grocery store, and not knowing for sure how long the produce has been sitting on the shelves. The worst part is buying something that spoils in the next day or two.

To me, the most intimidating aspect of the whole Bountiful Baskets thing is that you don’t have any control over what kinds of produce you’ll get. However, I think that it’s also one of the benefits. I have a bunch of bok choy and radishes sitting in my fridge that will need to be eaten (I HATE wasting good food!), so I’m compelled to go online in search of recipes. In fact, Bountiful Baskets has a blog where they post recipes and produce tips regularly. This is actually where I found my Cucumber & Radish Salad recipe!

So what about you? Have you ever participated in something like this? Do you have any unusual (& delicious) recipes to share?

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Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Did you know that tomorrow is Dr. Seuss’s birthday? It’s also National Read Across America Day!

cat and the hat

Image Source: BrainInsights Blog

We’ll be celebrating by walking over to our local library – they’re hosting a FREE party in honor of Dr. Seuss with fun Seuss-themed snacks, crafts, and games! Check your local library or bookstore to see if they have anything fun happening – odds are, they do!

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“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”

― Frederick Douglass:

American social reformer, orator, writer, statesman, FORMER slave.

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Reading aloud to a child is one of the best things you can do to give them a head start on the road to literacy, and a child who has been given the gift of literacy has been given the gift of independence. Without fear of an overstatement, no other skill is more fundamental to developing independent and curious individuals, and independent, curious individuals are absolutely vital to a free & productive society.

It’s never too late to create a culture of literacy in your home, where it matters the most. Trips to the library {and participation in fun library events} are a great way to get the whole family involved. Plus, checking out books from the library is FREE {as long as you bring them back on time!}, so when your child gets tired of a particular book, it’s super easy and FUN to swap that book out for a new one.

This article from BrainInsights blog has some great ideas for how to get reading regularly with your little one, and also discusses why reading is so developmentally crucial for kids’ brains.

I also found a cool Pinterest board put together by the Read Across America organization – Resources for Your Event. This pinboard has fonts, clip art, classroom ideas, tips for reading aloud, and more!

How do you engage your family in reading and literacy? Give me some fresh ideas!

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Raw Milk & Real Food in Fort Worth!

I have recently been very pleasantly surprised at my whole food options here in the Fort Worth area. After too many frustrating years of shopping for meat & produce at Walmart {the closest “grocery” store in my area}, I have been looking for alternatives to the grocery model altogether.

Now that I’ve been eating more naturally-produced and nutritious food, I’m surprised to find that I don’t want fast/junk food nearly as much as I used to … I wonder if it’s because my body & brain are {FINALLY} getting the proper fats and nutrition!?

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Texsax Ranch is a family-run operation out of their backyard southwest of Fort Worth {it’s a big yard}. Their chickens – all 300+ of them – have the best life ever:

“Our egg layers are a mixed flock of Barred Rocks, Brahmas, Australorps and Welchsummers that roam freely with our cattle. They are our natural way of controlling barn flies and pasture parasites. They feed on our pasture bermuda grass and have free choice access to a certified organic, soy-free feedmix supplied by Texas’ only local organic feedmill (Coyote Creek).” – http://www.texsaxranch.com 

The first time I went to buy eggs from them, a fresh basket of {dirty} eggs had just been brought in, and I had first pick!! One of the most fun aspects of getting eggs from a mixed flock is the variety of colors and sizes of eggs that I get – I regularly see speckled brown, light brown {“pink”}, and green eggs. I’ve even cracked open a larger egg to find that it had twin yolks! JACKPOT!!

Heidi & I eat an egg every morning for breakfast, so buying eggs from this farmer is a perfectly easy way to be sure that we’re packing in the nutrition first thing in the morning. The yolk’s deeper orange hue and thicker consistency are signs of low cholesterol and high protein. Plus, they just TASTE better!

I randomly ran across this Flickr Photostream that illustrates this whole lovely situation. Check it out.

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Nors Dairy – this is another family operation that is located WAY south of the Metroplex {in Abbott, TX}.

They produce 100% grass fed beef and dairy.

I get my milk and butter from them through a co-op, so I haven’t ever actually had to make the drive {although I’d LOVE to, if anyone is up for a road trip!} … but this is REALLY good milk.

I have found that I consume LESS milk and butter when it is sourced from healthy, grass-fed cows – it is just SO much richer, so much more delicious!

Here is a great article from the blog, Hail Merry, about their actual visit to the farm.

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Artisan Baking Co. – another GREAT family business, these guys make the most delicious handmade bread!

Apparently, they got their start by selling their handmade bread & baked goods at the Cowtown Farmer’s Market at the Weatherford Traffic Circle in Fort Worth, which is where I discovered them & bought my first loaf.

{By the way – the Cowtown Farmer’s Market is so COOL – go check this out if you haven’t already!}

Hint: if you drizzle a little honey on a toasted slice of their Nine Grain Harvest bread, I promise that you will die and go to heaven. Metaphorically speaking … but seriously.

They offer on-site baking and cooking classes, recipes online, and links to other awesome Fort Worth foodie establishments.

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What about you? How do you feel about the Local/Whole Food movement in Texas? Do you have any little local foodie tips to share?

Gardening Resources for North Texas

I’m kind of in the hurry-up-and-wait stage of the growing season, so I’ve got a little extra time to share some of my favorite sources of information for home veggie gardening.

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Image Courtesy: RaisedUrbanGardens.com

The very best information will come from sources that are closest {most local} to your backyard garden {because they’ll be the most knowledgeable about your particular situation}, so ask around at local feed supply stores, nurseries, and landscaping/garden centers.

Aggie Horticulture has tons of great info, as well as the TAMU AgriLife Extension Service. I am an Aggie, so I may be a teensy bit biased, but I really don’t think so.

These two resources have libraries worth of information at the ready – actually, my favorite way to find the info that I’m looking for on these sites is to just google the vegetable I’m interested in and include the term “tamu horticulture” in the search box {for example, for info on growing peppers in Texas, I’d google “tamu horticulture peppers” — works every time}.

Neil Sperry seems to be the local gardening expert around here – go find his Facebook page. I’ve learned so much just reading through some of the questions and ongoing discussions on his page.

Here in the Fort Worth area, I’ve also had really good experiences with The Plant Shed and Calloway’s Nursery. Both have locations all over the metroplex and carry high-quality products and plants. The Plant Shed is very competitive with Walmart prices and Calloway’s Nursery offers workshops and extra information online. Check ’em out.

A quick tip: Avoid the big box stores. I mean, I have nothing against big box stores, it’s just that the people there won’t be as knowledgeable about the area as the guy down the road who’s been running his own garden supply for so many years.

Another quick tip: do your research. Find out which types and breeds of vegetables do well in your area. If you just grab the prettiest seed packets or transplants from Walmart and drop ’em in the ground, you might get lucky … but it’s more likely that you won’t. Just trust me – do your research!!!!!!!!!!! Which just means: poke around on the links I provided, read a bunch, and ask a bunch of local gardeners for their experience. I learned the hard way, but you don’t have to 😉

PLEASE let me know if you have some sources of good information of your own! I’m really pretty new to gardening, and I’m still learning and discovering new places to find info. Share! SHARE!! SHARE!!!

{{EEK! In the process of writing this article, I discovered this: http://northtexasvegetablegardeners.com/ … clicked through a little bit and it looks pretty awesome!}}

Happy Halloween!

Well, Fall is definitely upon us! Summers here in Texas are long and brutal, so I am especially excited about the upcoming turn of the leaves and drop of the temperature (although, ask me in a few months, and you’ll probably hear me pining for warm summer afternoons in the sun).

Now that I’m a mama, the seasons, holidays, and festivals take on a whole new meaning. It’s my little girl’s very first time to explore the tastes, textures, and traditions of the season, and I want to do everything I can to make it special for her.

Signs of Fall

As many mothers know, the blogosphere is rich with tips, tricks, and ideas for any occasion, and my quick search for a toddler-appropriate fall-flavored activity brought up a Disney Baby Blog article: “Pumpkin Fun for Babies and Toddlers.”

Side note: If you’ve never been to DisneyBaby.com, you’re seriously missing out. They have so much good information over there.

So we headed out to the nursery to find a pumpkin (or three) …

Picking out a pumpkin with Heidi

The trip to the nursery was an event all its own – all the colors of fall bursting on display inspired memories of seasons past.

And then it hit. The Meltdown. You know the kind I’m talking about. The howling and the shrieking and the drooly-snot and the careful throwing-down of oneself onto unforgiving concrete while Mommy angry-whispers “Stop. IT.

Which reminds me of an important point.

Let’s be real here for a minute: for all of your best work and preparation, we are discussing toddler activities. So there are toddlers involved. So things are going to be a little imperfect. Revel in the imperfection. Take a deep breath and put all of the Good Housekeeping images out of your mind. It will only drive you crazy, and you’ll end up missing these few precious moments of beautiful chaos.

Besides, it’s amazing what a couple teething tablets and a two-hour nap will do.